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Inscription

on reverse, written twice at right angles, now obscured by lining fabric (photo in NGA curatorial file): W.B. Audubon

Provenance

The artist [1812-1862]; probably by inheritance to his second wife, Caroline Hall Audubon [1811-1899], Salem, New York; by inheritance to their son, William Bakewell Audubon [1847-1932], Australia; by inheritance to his son, Leonard Benjamin Audubon [1888-1951], Sydney, Australia;[1] sold 1950 to E.J.L. Hallstrom [1886-1970], Sydney, Australia; gift 1951 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1951
Audubon Paintings and Prints from the Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1951.
1985
Extended loan for use by Ambassador Thomas Michael Tulliver Niles, U.S. Embassy residence, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1985-1989.
2000
John James Audubon in the West: The Last Expedition, Mammals of North America, Buffalo Bill Hist. Ctr., Cody; Acad. of Nat. Sci., Phil. [not shown]; Houston Mus. of Nat. Sci.; Autry Mus. of Western Heritage, Los Angeles, 2000-2001, unnumb. cat., repro.
Bibliography
1951
Ford, Alice, ed. Audubon's Animals. New York, 1951: 216.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 12, repro.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 21, repro.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 22, repro.
1996
Kelly, Franklin, with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Deborah Chotner, and John Davis. American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 19-21, color repro.
Technical Summary

The original support is a plain-weave fabric. The painting has been lined. The paint was generally applied thinly and transparently. In the foreground the warm, off-white ground layer shows through the brushstrokes, creating a luminosity in some of the browns. The ferret was accomplished with fine brush strokes of thinly applied paint to suggest the texture of fur. The painting is in a very poor condition, with numerous small losses of paint and ground. The largest loss, the size of a quarter, is in the center of the sky above the ferret's back. In 1989, the painting was relined and a new varnish coating was applied over remnants of an old, discolored varnish layer. Inpainting in the sky has whitened.